Teaching Kids to Take Care of Kittens

When you add new kittens to your family, you should expect everyone in the family to participate in the care of the kittens. However, some responsibilities are too large for young children and should be taken care of by the adults in the household.

Preparing Your Child for a Pet

Before adding a new kitten to the family, prepare your children for the responsibilities. If they are begging for the pet, make them demonstrate responsibility first. Start with simple chores such as making their beds or watering plants every day.

Keep track of how often they do their chores without being told and give them praise or rewards. Have them keep a chart of when they do their chores so they can develop a consistent routine as is necessary with pets. Once they have done their chores consistently for a few weeks, they are ready for their pets.

Some trainers recommend getting a fish before getting a kitten or puppy so that your children can understand the responsibility of not only feeding their pet on time but also cleaning up after it and providing an enriching environment for it.

Discuss the responsibilities of the kitten with your children before bringing him home. They will need to play with the kitten and feed and water him. They will also need to be gentle with the kitten and realize that kittens don't always like to be held and squeezed for long periods of time.

Bringing Home the Kitten

The more your children participate in this process, the more ownership they will take of their new pet. Ask them to help you prepare a safe area for the kitten where he will be warm and have access to his food, water and toys. Allow them to pick toys, food bowls and other cat accessories.

Though it may lead to fighting, allow your children to have input on the kitten's name and try to decide in a fair way what his name will be.

Taking Care of the Kitten

Make a chart with weekly responsibilities for each child. It can alternate, but be sure to provide the easiest tasks to the youngest children. As the children get older, such as 10 and older, they can take on more important tasks.

Good tasks for younger children are refilling water bowls, assisting with feeding time and providing exercise for the kitten through play. Make sure to supervise all interactions with your young children and young kitten as children can often be inadvertently rough. Kittens who aren't used to children may be frightened and scratch or bite, creating a bad relationship between the kitten and children.

Older children can be in charge of feeding time, playtime and cleaning the litterbox. Ultimately, however, the adults are in charge, so any difficult responsibilities, such as administering medications, trimming nails and getting up at night with the kitten should be the responsibility of an adult.

Adding a kitten to the family can be a great experience, but be sure to prepare your children for the responsibility and guide them in their first few weeks of interacting with the kitten.